Monday, 14 March 2011

Cash or Card

"How much for I pay cash, f#*king" - One of my most common questions selling houses to the public - Ok maybe not so much with the F-bomb on the end but in this instance it helps emphasise the direction of where the question comes from. The irony being from a sellers point of view cash or credit the end amount that hits the bank account if exactly the same so it's a redundant question.
Removing cash from our society would for many cultures and ethnic backgrounds like removing long flowing side burns from traditional Jewish men or taking the Burka of Muslim women or taking the rosery beads down from the rear vision mirror of a god fearing Christian. It's that strongly engraved in so many cultures that Cash is King. I remember travelling to the outer West with my flat mate in 1994 to sell his Ford Capri. He had sold it to a young lady for $11,000 and grandma comes out of the house with a shoe box open it up and takes out $11,000 Cash and hands it to us. It to me and her cousin four times to count it to agree that the amount was correct. She had many more bundles in that shoe box. We were left to catch the train home - shitting ourselves with that much cash on us - a bank cheque would have pleased us more.
It would be impossible to remove the value of cash from these sociaties I see it every day with dealing with all sections of the public. Ours is one of the few cultures that doesn't have the same revered respect of the almight dollar in it's purest forms.
Card is convenience however card is dangerous and deadly. It's easy to use the card, it's also comparitively as easy to forget what you're spending on the card. Card sepnding almost holds no value. It's easy to test out, simply take $100 cash out and see how long it takes to spend it if it's your last $100, leave $100 in the account and go out and exclusively use card, it's easy to forget and spend too quickly or too much.
Cure there would be benefits, less theft, but then the theives would simply get better at card fraud. I've been skimmed and had to change my key card. My old boss had $8,000 taken out of his credit card at 3am on tuesday night after his card was skimmed. Card fraud is in it's infancy here is Australia but it's coming and getting more and more sophisticated. Keeping the cash in the shoe box under the bed might be old fashioned but there's sometimes something to be said for old fashioned things.

Finally teaching our kids the value of money, my son hoards cash, he has a healthy level of respect for it, infact he still hasn't spent his birthday money because he likes the sense of opening his wallet and having cash in it, he'll forgo the cheap thrills of a new toy for a few weeks whilst he feels rich. My daughter has no respect for money spending what she has when she has it. It's harder to make her respect the value of money but more so when it's in her account than when she has cash in her hot little hands. Her philosophy of 'take some more money out of the bank in the wall dad' doesn't help her with her understanding of value, bank balances and expenses. Looking at a bank balance and checking your statement is boring for a child, looking in your wallet and seeing you've only got $10 left and three bags of lollies means you won't have enough for an icecream later seems to have more impact on them with their decision making. Financial responsibility is not a lesson I was taught and one I needed. There's a lot to be said again for the old bank book system, is old fashioned but I think more powerful that an automated bank balance from the ATM.

It's Cash for me, Card is convenient but it could not and can never replace Cash.

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